by Peter Duke
Elephants are the largest land animals, they live in a matriarchal society with a female leader. They are intelligent creatures and learn easily; that’s why they are used in countries such as Thailand to carry out heavy logging work. The white elephant has always been regarded as a royal beast and figures in Thai and Indian culture. Yes we love and admire the elephant because they demonstrate, like us, care for each other and social intelligence. Yet we are destroying them.
Today, August 12th is World Elephant Day dedicated to saving the elephant and its habitat, combating illegal poaching, eliminating trade in ivory, educating handlers of working elephants to provide proper care and encourage people wherever possible to visit well managed sanctuaries so we may gain a better understanding of these beautiful animals.
Oyez!Books has published a number of books on this majestic animal.
For one of our authors, a ride on an elephant as a child proved to be so unforgettable that when he grew up to become an artist he dedicated himself to drawing elephants. This is none other Yusof Gajah whose paintings and illustrations of elephants never fail to delight. Yusof's elephants are not always elephants - they do amazing things like becoming the alphabet or even a teapot! In addition, they have decorated banners adorning trees at the famous Nami Island in South Korea.
One picture book that Yusof has illustrated is Dill the Little ELephant, a story of a baby elephant in search of its parents.
This story was originally a German folktale, retold by Volker Wolf.
Apart from the fascinating and touching story, this book contains a variety of Yusof Gajah's illustrations of different animals that can be found in the Malaysian forest.
Yet another picture book that Yusof illustrated was written by award-winning Chinese author Xiao Mao. How to Teach An Elephant to Jump was first published in China by China Children Publishing House and we hope to have the Bahasa Malaysia version next year!
The elephant can do many things but can it jump? Read the book to find out!
One more book we want to include is Alahai Anak Gajah by Nor Azhar Ishak who is also a mentee of Yusof Gajah.
This simple and sweet story of a baby elephant wandering away from home and getting caught by a crocodile reminds one of Kipling's How the Elephant got its Trunk in his Just-so Stories.
It's wonderful to have all these books by Malaysian authors and illustrators about the elephant. Have you read any children's books on elephants published locally that you would like to share? Do let us know in the comments below.